Keep your Workforce Engaged – Employee Appreciation Ideas

According to Mercer’s October 2011 What’s Work survey report, research shows that despite ongoing economic uncertainty, employees are still considering leaving their current company for a better opportunity. Analysis of the study reveals that “non-financial factors play a prominent role in influencing employee motivation and engagement.”

These two factors combined make it more critical than ever for businesses to provide employees with appreciation “perks” that resonate with employees while increasing retention. It’s important to note too, that not every employee appreciates the same things and what might seem like a perk to one might be perceived as a waste of time/money to another. The more you can customize the perk, the better. Have options that appeal to those who are more social and those who are more introverted. Some people you may not suspect are introverted and cringe at group events.

Here are some hands-on ideas!

  • Give out discounted or free movie tickets to be used during off time not during work hours. Some theatre chains may provide a discount if the tickets are purchased in bulk.
  • End the work day an hour or two early and let your staff go home. This can be company-wide or staggered by department (or staggered some other way to ensure that your company has adequate coverage if that is an issue). Understand how your employees generally get to and from work before implementing. For example, this reward could backfire if the employee has to wait two hours for a vanpool.
  • Provide an extra hour for lunch (non-exempt employees are paid for the lunch period) to allow a department to go to lunch together. The company could provide a budget for each lunch and appoint a person to submit the receipt or just approve the paid time.
  • Institute “half-day Fridays” for a period of time in the summer or other favored season among the staff.
  • Provide each department with a budget for a team outing. Let them decide how they want to spend the time together and allow a half or full day off for the outing. Allow them to combine the outing with other departments if they want.
  • Provide department heads with a “goody box” (movie tickets, coffee cards, iTunes cards, etc.) to be given away at their discretion to recognize their staff.
  • Use funds generated from a company recycling program or other to recognize staff (such as receptionist and other administrative employees).
  • Bring a “bike doctor” in to fix employees’ bicycles in the spring and offer a company bike outing.
  • Offer a personal holiday or time off to be used at their discretion within a defined period of time (such as 3-6 months).
  • Give out certificates entitling the holder to purchase something of their choosing (that’s legal) up to a certain dollar value. Reimburse with receipt for item and the certificate.
  • Bring in a popcorn machine, snow cone machine or other fun treat to surprise employees. Use, “Thank You” napkins to let them know they are appreciated.
  • Have the leadership team serve breakfast or lunch to the staff. Get creative with the offering and the setting. Chocolate chip pancakes in the parking lot, anyone? Have an alternative for those with dietary restrictions. This sends a very caring message to the staff.
  • Throw a party in the parking lot with food, music and games. Make sure to let the non-exempt staff know that they are being paid for this time.
  • Institute a “day (or week) of appreciation”. During this time executive team members and department heads should go out of their way to openly compliment what they appreciate or enjoy about individual staff members. Everyone must get a compliment and all staff members should be encouraged to participate.
  • Deliver balloons to employees at their workstations on company anniversaries or other milestone celebrations. Recruit several employees to deliver to make a big deal about it.
  • Arrange a scavenger hunt around the building or city to find “prizes”.
  • Take your employees on a “field trip” to lunch in the park, a museum, local event, etc. – use a charter van or bus, or have your executive team and department heads drive staff in their personal vehicles. Make sure your cars are clean.
  • Offer 15-30 minute on-site mini massage or chair massage by licensed massage therapist. This can be offered during work hours with time off paid by the company. The company finds and arranges the massage therapist. This can be company or employee paid.
  • Provide access to discounted haircuts at a salon or on-site by a licensed hair dresser.

Here are some related Resourceful HR blogs that you might find useful:
Non-cash Incentives – Motivate Employees and Increase Engagement
Work-life Balance: How Will Your Generation Influence Work-life Balance?
Employee Recognition When the Bonus Budget is Cut

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[…] We often help clients weigh the pros and cons of benefit policies by sharing our collective knowledge. For example, here are some of our client’s examples of benefits and onboarding strategies as well as our employee appreciation ideas. […]